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Sunflowers are very much in demand from July until far into autumn. They also consistently top the annual popularity rankings together with roses and tulips. Why? Quite simply because sunflowers look just like miniature suns, and they stand for many a good thing in life, such as loyalty, development, freedom and sincerity.

Sunflowers: a rich history

Lady Sunshine (including vase)
MyBouquet Sunflowers
Wild sunflowers originally grew in North and Central America. Archaeological research has established that sunflowers were cultivated as early as around 2500 B.C. in the Mississippi region and Mexico, and later also in South America. Native Indian tribes throughout the Americas valued the plant for its many uses and saw the sunflower as a symbol of fertility.

The ancient Greeks and Romans were also well acquainted with what was, in all probability, a sunflower-like plant species. Ovid, a Roman poet, wrote a poem about how the plant was named after a rather tragic sequence of events in Greek mythology: Clytia, a nymph, falls in love with sun god Apollo. Unhappily, Apollo does not reciprocate her love, whereupon Clytia flies into a jealous rage. She discloses Apollo's secret love affair with another woman, then sits down on a rock, refuses to eat or drink, stares into the sun and laments her misfortune. Nine days later, she is transformed into a plant that constantly keeps its flowers and leaves facing the sun. However, there is a minor problem with this story - the sunflower did not reach Europe until the 16th century. Therefore, "sunflower" in Greek mythology must have been the name of a different plant, presumably the European turnsole (Heliotropium europaeum). No matter, this ancient Greek myth remains an enchanting one!

Sunflowers - sunshine as a gift! Shop HERE.



Sunflowers: faithful followers of the sun

Sunflowers resemble miniature suns. The name says it all, not only in English, but also in German (Sonnenblume), Dutch (zonnebloem) and Romanian (floarea soarelui).

Sunflowers Pure with Gottlieber Hüppen "Special Edition for Fleurop"
In French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian, though, the name reflects the fact that sunflowers "follow the sun". And quite rightly so, since these unique flowers constantly track the sun as it moves across the sky. On sunny days, both the flower heads and the leaves follow the sun on its journey from east to west; during the night they get ready to welcome the rising sun by returning to their default position facing east. Nice to know: ripe sunflowers always look to the east.

Sunflowers - sunshine as a gift! Shop HERE



Symbolism: sunflowers say

Since time immemorial, the sun as our source of light and life has been a symbol of divinity. Many peoples raised the sun to the status of a god. In America, the original homeland of the sunflower, these miniature suns were revered as a symbol of the sun gods. Inevitably, secular rulers appropriated this divine symbol for their own purposes over the centuries. For example, Louis XIV, the Sun King, who commissioned a series of coins stamped with images of the sun and sunflowers at the peak of his power. Christianity embraced the sunflower as a symbol of vitality and, in more recent times, the sunflower was adopted by the hippie movement as one of their emblems.

Top of Summer with Fleurop sunglasses
Indulgence for Senses: Gudarrà Gift – set "Southern Italian Essence"
To sum up, for peoples in the distant past the sunflower represented the sun, light, life, fertility, good health and wisdom; for the secular sovereigns it was a symbol of power, wealth, devotion and loyalty; for Christians it signified vitality; and for the hippies the sunflower became a "logo" reflecting their quest for peace, love and happiness.

Sunflowers - sunshine as a gift! Shop HERE


Sunflowers: many things to many people

Sunflower Basket with Red Wine Gudarrà - Aglianico del Vulture (75cl)

The indigenous inhabitants of the Americas cultivated sunflowers for food as far back as 4,500 years ago. They initially consumed the seeds directly from the flower head, but soon learnt to grind them into flour for cakes, mush or bread. They used the yellow petals - the "rays" - to produce a dye and dried the fibres in the stalk to make rope. In 1530, Spanish explorers brought sunflower drawings and seeds from America to Europe, where the sunflower was much admired as an ornamental plant. Then, from the 17th century onwards, more and more uses were discovered. The seeds were used in baked goods, roasted seeds became a coffee substitute. Later, in the 19th century, the sunflower's significance as a source of vegetable oil became apparent. In our day and age, the seeds are appreciated as a simple but nutritious snack, used as cooking ingredients and sprinkled on various salad dishes.

Let the Sunshine in, with Swiss blossom honey

And the versatility of the sunflower does not end there: the dried leaves and stalks contain more protein than clover or hay and are hence an excellent animal feed. Sunflower seeds are also used in traditional medicine. They are said to help prevent and treat fever, chest colds and whooping cough, and sunflower oil is applied to painful joints.

Sunflowers - sunshine as a gift! Shop HERE



Sunflowers: BIG-name fans!

At the end of the 17th century, painters "discovered" the sunflower and captured it on canvas. In fact, the sunflower is one of the most popular flowers in the world of fine art. In the Flemish region, it became a symbol of art per se. Anthonis van Dyck's Self-Portrait with a Sunflower is a particularly well-known example. Van Dyck used the sunflower, a symbol of dedication, to emphasise his loyalty to the king. Its popularity as a motif waned in the 18th century, but in the following century the sunflower was revived by Vincent van Gogh. Painted in Arles in southern France, his Vase with Twelve Sunflowers was one of a whole series of sunflower paintings. In later years, the sunflower inspired other great artists to create works of timeless appeal, for example Salvador Dalí's Helianthus Solifer, Gustav Klimt's Farm Garden with Sunflowers, Egon Schiele's Sunflowers and Emil Nolde's Small Sunflowers. On the subject of van Gogh's Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, Fleurop's 2011 poster may not have featured quite that many sunflowers, but it was definitely deep and evocative, so much so that it won numerous advertising prizes in Switzerland and abroad, and also the Poster of the Year 2011 award!

Click HERE for Fleurop's multiple award winning poster campaign with sunflowers.

Sunflowers - sunshine as a gift! Shop HERE

MyBouquet Sunflowers
Picturesque Summer Display